Before you throw out your empty oyster shells, consider saving them. Of all places, your garden can benefit from oyster shells as plants pull nutrients from them. Oyster shells are perfect for your soil because they have natural calcium and minerals that plant roots can absorb. You can purchase crushed oyster shells from most landscaping companies, or start saving them after your last seafood feast! Here’s how to best give them a second life in your garden.
Late spring and early summer are the best times of year to add oyster shells to your mulch. Depending on how large your garden is, you can apply the crushed shells in thick layers. When using shells for garden plants, use between four to six pounds of crushed shells per every 100 square feet. Thick two-inch layers are recommended when using the oyster shells as mulch. Rember to always water your soil after adding the shells. The water makes sure the shells get rooted into the soil to support your plants.
Because oyster shells have high amounts of calcium, they can help balance your soil pH levels. Shells also strengthen plant cell walls, improve nitrate uptake, and can help form enzymes in your soil. Leafy greens and vegetables will also have a greater growth rate and vitality with added oyster shells in the soil. The shells have a coarse build, which helps keep the soil compacted. This helps prevent plants from getting waterlogged. Oyster shells can even help prevent garden pests like moles and voles.
When you use oyster shells for compost, it will help balance the acidity levels in your soil. The shells add soil nutrients because they can become a habitat beneficial to microbes. If you’re using oyster shells from home, be sure to boil and break the shells into small gravel-like pieces. As you compost, you’ll need to mix carbon materials (twigs, dry leaves) with nitrogen material (food scraps, grass) before adding a layer of crushed shells. Mix in water and sift the pile several times per week. Once the shells aren’t visible in the soil, you can add the mixture to your garden.
Before you can use oyster shells in your garden, you’ll need tools to shuck! At Oysters XO, we offer mobile oyster shucking services and tools to help you better enjoy oysters. Whether you’re planning an oyster event or simply want to learn more about oysters, we can help! Contact us to learn more.